2) Leon Draisaitl
This may sound strange for a player who’s second on the Oilers in scoring, but something is just off with Leon Draisaitl. He doesn’t look like the same player that terrified opponents over the previous five seasons.
Draisaitl’s play this season has included a period where he only managed one goal in 10 games. If you want to extend this, he had a run of just two goals in 15 games, with both stretches encompassing both Woodcroft’s and Knoblauch’s tenures this season.
Even allowing for the majority of the team being in a funk at some juncture this season, the four-time All-Star is better than this. It also becomes an interesting comparison, when looking at his productivity both before and after the coaching change.
Under Woodcroft, Draisaitl had 15 points and a -2 rating in 13 games. Since Knoblauch has arrived, he has produced 18 points and a -5 rating in 15 games.
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While closely aligned, the overall implication is that the 2020 Art Ross Trophy winner has been worse since Woodcroft was fired. This becomes more evident, when considering the lines as a whole.
Of late most of the lines have been performing well, specifically during the eight-game winning streak. However, unfortunately for Draisaitl, the exception to this has been the form of his line.
This has left Knoblauch with the conundrum of attempting to improve the play of the German native’s line, whilst not upsetting the harmony of the others. If nothing else, at least the current two-game losing streak has provided an excuse for the Oilers coach to make some slight changes.
In this respect, as per Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED, the most significant takeaway from Sunday’s practice was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins joining Draisaitl and Foegele on the second line. Now we wait to see if Draisaitl will improve his play accordingly; he’s not exactly in dire straits, but better production from him will undoubtedly help the team as a whole.